About Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, at http://jenniferwolfe.net, and grab a free copy of "8 Tips For A Successful School Year" while you're there.

I spent the day today working with professional educators.  This group of experienced teachers gathered to learn more about mentoring those just entering our profession.  Technically, we’re there to participate in the California teacher credentialing program, which requires beginning teachers to partner with experienced support providers. But while I was sitting there, learning about learning-focused conversations, and how to consult, collaborate and coach, I couldn’t help but wonder why anyone would enter this profession – the same one I’ve dedicated the last 26 years towards.

My feelings were echoed by a colleague I was working with.  She told me she’s embarrassed to say she’s a teacher now and refrains from offering her profession unless asked.  Shocked, I realized that being a teacher doesn’t embarrass me – it frustrates me.

I realized that being a teacher doesn’t embarrass me - it frustrates me. Click To Tweet

Dozens of teachers are searching for jobs – veteran teachers just can’t take the brutal working conditions, disrespect and complete exhaustion they feel from working in public education.

When did teachers become the villains?

After spending three unpaid hours in my classroom after the workshop, I went home and started reading about Trump’s proposed budget cuts to so many programs that directly and indirectly will impact not only my job, but the lives of my students and the likelihood that we can recruit qualified, enthusiastic teachers into our profession for years to come. 

According to Educationworld.com’s article, “Trump’s Budget Proposal Includes Significant DOE Spending Cuts And More Funding For School Choice”, The article states The “America First” budget proposes a $1.4 billion spending increase on school choice initiatives in 2018, with the goal of “ramping up to an annual total of $20 billion.” And while the administration may try to hide behind the supposed increase in Title 1 funds, deeper reading will show that these funds will come with caveats that will lead towards bolstering the administration’s choice initiatives.

Furthermore, the article states that due to ‘inconclusive evidence’, the Trump administration “also calls for a 13 percent reduction in the Education Department’s budget, slashing $9 billion out of its current budget. The two biggest causalities from these massive cuts are the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs.The former program provides funding to local and state educational agencies for teacher recruitment efforts and professional development training, with the aim of improving academic quality. The latter program offers wraparound before- and after-school enrichment opportunities for students in economically distressed communities”. How exactly is the administration measuring evidence? What leads them to think that professional development training isn’t effective? And that offering enrichment programs doesn’t promote learning and academic achievement? I certainly would like to know how many schools and administrators and teachers OMB Director Mick Mulvaney has evaluated to make his absurd claim.

 I’m tired of people thinking they know how to do my job.  In what other profession do people immediately begin to spout off how they could do the job better?  Would someone tell a doctor how to operate?  A vet how to treat an animal?  A lawyer how to try a case?  A firefighter how to attack a fire?  Yet more often than not, when I tell someone I’m a teacher they respond with their own version of how schools are effective or ineffective, and how they would change education.

I’ve never been anything but a teacher.  I’ve dedicated decades of time and energy to serving every student, every family that walks through my door – thousands of them.  I don’t get to choose my students, and they don’t choose me.  I guess some might say it’s chance that we are thrown together, but I take it seriously.  I see teachers pour countless hours into improving their practice and creating new ways to engage and educate students.  I see teachers reaching out to help their colleagues, no matter their level of experience.  These teachers are the heroes – not the villains – of our communities.

Budget cuts empower the public to pass the blame onto someone else instead of working together to… Click To Tweet

False claims such as these, absurd budget cuts and a supposed lack of evidence make teachers look like the “bad guys” and schools look like they are failing.  They empower the public to pass the blame onto someone else instead of working together to look at areas for improvement, both in their parenting and the school system.  Budget cuts and school choice might seem like an easy fix, but in reality, they won’t fix the education system.  My prediction is they will make education much, much worse.

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